Pioneer Abstract & Title

Escrow Closing

What is an escrow and why is it needed?

 An escrow is an arrangement in which a disinterested third party, called an escrow holder, holds legal documents and funds on behalf of a buyer and seller, and distributes them according to the buyer’s and seller’s instructions.

People buying and selling real estate often open an escrow for their protection and convenience.
The buyer can instruct the escrow holder to disburse the purchase price only upon the satisfaction of certain prerequisites and conditions.  The seller can instruct the escrow holder to retain possession of the deed to the buyer until the seller’s requirements, including receipt of the purchase price, are met.  Both rely on the escrow holder to carry out faithfully their mutually consistent instructions relating to the transaction and to advise them if any of their instructions are not mutually consistent or cannot be carried out.

An escrow is convenient for the buyer and seller because both can move forward separately but simultaneously in providing inspections, reports, loan commitments and funds, deeds, and many other items, using the escrow holder as the central depositing point.  If the instructions from all parties to an escrow are clearly drafted, fully detailed and mutually consistent, the escrow holder can take many actions on their behalf without further consultation.  This saves much time and facilitates the closing of the transaction.

Who may hold escrows?

The escrow holder may be any disinterested third party. There are two important reasons for selecting an established, independent escrow firm, and attorney, or an escrow officer with a bank, S & L or title insurance company. One is that real estate transactions require a tremendous amount of
technical experience and knowledge to handle smoothly. The other is that the escrow holder will generally be responsible for safeguarding and properly distributing the purchase price.

Escrow officers with established firms generally are experienced and trained in real estate procedures, title insurance, taxes, deeds and insurance.

Closing the escrow?

Once all the terms and conditions of the instructions of both parties have been fulfilled, and all closing conditions satisfied, the escrow is closed and the safe and accurate transfer of property and money has been accomplished.

Escrow Instructions

Escrow instructions are written documents, signed by buyer and seller, which direct the escrow
officer in the specific steps to be completed so the escrow can be closed.

Typical instructions would include the following:

    1) The method by which the escrow holder is to receive and hold the purchase price to be paid by the  

    2) The conditions under which a lapse of time or breach of purchase contract provision will  
        terminate the escrow without a closing.

    3) The instruction and authorization to the escrow holder to disburse funds for recording fees, title 
        insurance policy, real estate commissions and any other closing costs incurred through escrow.

    4) Instructions as to the proration of insurance and taxes.

    5) Instruction to the escrow holder on the payment of prior liens and charges against the property and 
        distribution of the net sale proceeds.

Since the escrow holder can only follow the instructions as stated, and may not exceed them, it is extremely important that the instructions be stated clearly and be complete in all details.

What each party does in the escrow process:

The Seller

    1) Deposits the executed deed to the buyer with the escrow holder.  Deposits the executed deed to 
        the buyer with the escrow holder.
    2) Deposits evidence of pest inspection and any required repair work.

    3) Deposits other required documents such as tax receipts, addresses of mortgage holders, insurance 
        policies, equipment warranties or home warranty contracts, etc.

The Buyer

    1) Deposits the funds required, in addition to any borrowed funds, to pay the purchase price with the 
        escrow holder.
    2) Deposits funds sufficient for home and title insurance.

    3) Arranges for any borrowed funds to be delivered to the escrow holder.

    4) Deposits any mortgages necessary to secure loans.

    5) Approves any inspection reports, title insurance commitments, etc. called for by the purchase and 
        sale agreements.

    6) Fulfills any other conditions specified in the escrow instructions.

The Lender

    1) Deposits proceeds of the loan to the purchaser.
    2) Directs the escrow holder on the conditions under which the loan funds may be used.

The Escrow Holder

    1) Opens the order for title insurance.

    2) Obtains approval from the buyer on title insurance report, pest and other inspections.

    3) Receives funds from the buyer and/or any lender.

    4) Prorates taxes, insurance, rents, etc.

    5) Disburses funds for title insurance, recordation fees, real estate commissions, lien clearance, etc.

    6) Prepares a final statement for each party, indicating amounts to be disbursed for services and any 
        further amounts necessary to close escrow.

    7) Records deed and loan documents, delivers the deed to the buyer, loan documents to the lender, 
        and funds to the seller, closing the escrow.

In Summary

The escrow process was developed to help facilitate the sale or purchase of your home. The escrow holder accomplishes this by:
– Acting as the impartial “stakeholder,” or depository of documents and funds.
– Processing and coordinating the flow of documents and funds.
– Keeping all parties informed of progress on the escrow.
– Responding to the lender’s requirements.
– Securing a title insurance policy.
– Obtaining approvals of reports and documents from the parties as required.
– Prorating and adjusting insurance, taxes, rents, etc.
– Recording the deed and loan documents.
– Maintaining security and accountability of monies owed and owing.